2017 set to be the ‘Year of Sustainable Grassland’

A new initiative launched by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will see 2017 become the ‘Year of Sustainable Grassland’.

The launch of the new initiative was recently announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed.

The year-long project will see an extra focus placed on the productivity, utilisation and sustainability of grass by the by the Department, its agencies and other stakeholders.

It also aims to focus on the international reputation of Ireland’s grass based production systems.

Minister Creed said this new initiative will bring an added focus to a critical part of our competitive livestock industry, at a recent visit to the farm of Ger Dineen, Kilnamartyra, Macroom in Co. Cork.

Grass is at the heart of our efficient dairy and livestock systems and is recognised and valued by our international customers as a sustainable system.

The aim of the initiative is to improve grass productivity and utilisation and to enhance and promote awareness of the sustainability of Ireland’s grass-based production system, according to the Department.

Grass, Grassland,
Bill Callanan, DAFM, Dairy Farmer Michael Crowley, Skibbereen, Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Niall Ryan, DAFM & Beef Farmer Ger Dineen, Kilnamartyra, Macroom

A range of events are being organised over the coming year to support the initiative, involving all the agencies and many industry stakeholders.

The initiative supports the goals of the Food Wise 2025 strategy and aims to raise awareness on the role that grass plays in supporting competitive dairy and livestock production.

These sectors possess a significant cost advantage in the form of an environmentally sustainable, rain-fed, grass based production system, the Department said.

In 2017, Bord Bia is set to focus on promoting Irish grassland systems internationally, while Teagasc will launch a campaign in January 2017 called ‘Grass 10T’.

This campaign is set to run for four years and will focus on improving grass utilisation at farm level through a range of farm based activities such as grazing management, grass measurement and sward composition.

In order to strengthen the partnership between the two initiatives Teagasc will run a ‘Grassland Farmer of the Year’ competition in 2017 with support from the Department.

Meanwhile, the Minister believes that improved grassland management could have environmental benefits.

More effective utilisation of the national grassland resource also has the potential to further reduce negative environmental impacts while supporting increased productivity.

Efficient utilisation of grassland through greater emphasis on soil health can increase the carbon efficiency of increased production, he added.

This would also reduce the loss of nutrients and release of gasses into the atmosphere, while improving the soils capacity to act as a carbon sink, Minister Creed said.